Optimising blog and email titles – 65 characters max is the goal!

This is according to a recent post on the e-consultancy blog anyway, and if you read the article it does make a lot of sense. The objective of a title, whether on an email, blog post or web page, is to get your content noticed.

  • By search engines
  • By people scanning their email inbox
  • By social media followers

In all these cases 65 characters seems to be optimal. For Search engines – 65-70 characters is seen to be the optimal length for a page title from an SEO perspective For email 65 characters means that there is a good chance that your subject line will be seen in full in the inbox For social media – Especially twitter, it leaves room for links, and most importantly for people to add their comments when the retweet. You will find the full article here on e-consultancy, and it is well worth a read.  

Marketing advice on your smartphone – the SME Marketing App

Marketing ideas and advice are always useful in business even if it is only to consider a tactic for your business and then decide not to use it! The problem can be the expense of accessing marketing advice. Whether you employ a consultant or go on courses, the costs can mount up. What would be useful is a flexible reference tool that, while maybe not delivering all the answers to your marketing dilemmas, helps you focus your thoughts into considering specific ideas and options for marketing your business. I came across this neat little app over the weekend. The SME Marketing app gives information and advice over a pretty comprehensive range of marketing topics for small and medium businesses. It doesn’t go into a great deal of detail on any subject but I found it did set me thinking about the usefulness of different marketing tools and ideas, and how I might apply them to my business. The app has been created by a London marketing company Marketing Fundamentals (www.marketingfundamentals.co.uk).  The app costs £2.99 but I think this is a modest investment for a simple marketing primer that you can refer to anywhere and any time to get your marketing creativity juices flowing. The app is available for iPhone with an Android version promised soon. You can download the app here BTW: I’m not on commission!  

Twitter Spam Followers and How to Stop Them

As with many Social Media platforms, the success of your Twitter campaign is often measured by the number of followers that you have. However, we always  believe that you should measure quality just as much as quantity. One threat to the quality of your followers list is Twitter Spam. These are Twitter users who have no relevance to your business but who follow you simply to spread their message more widely. Under most circumstances, you might say “so what, if they find my content interesting, why shouldn’t they follow me“; but many of these spam followers are promoting regular spam fayre such as drugs and adult sites that you would probably not want to be associated with, so having them in your followers list is not necessarily a good thing. The good news is that, as with most things, there is a relatively simple solution. A service called TwitSweeper will regularly scan your followers list (for a small fee) and flag up and potentially spammy followers (or you can tell it simply to delete them). In principal, this seems like a neat solution to the problem. As such we are currently trialing this service, and will feed back our findings. We would also be interested to hear your experiences of/solutions to this issue.  

Top 5 Bad Marketing Ideas

We are always trying to bring you good ideas and tips to support your marketing efforts, but I thought it would be interesting to take a different tack and present some bad ideas (or marketing ideas that you may be encouraged to take up!) that we would recommend avoiding. The inspiration for this came from a post on a US site www.goodmarketingideas.com highlighting the top BAD marketing ideas both on and off line. If you want to read the full article, you will find a link to it here. When it comes to On-line Marketing, here are my Top 5 Bad Marketing ideas:

1. Chase The Next Big Thing

If there is one thing that web marketing thrives on it is the “Next Big Internet Thing” (NBIT). Invariably, the NBIT is sold as the answer to all your marketing desires. Whether it is: a. Get to the top of Google b. Win with Social Media c. Beat your competition with Marketing or whatever… However useful the NBIT may be as part of your marketing toolkit, you can be sure that it will not be as big as the hype. I use the 3 examples above for a reason. All can very valuable when used as part of a sustainable marketing plan, but none will individually solve your marketing problems overnight. Be vary wary of anyone claiming to be able to solve your problems overnight….for a modest fee!

2. Ignore Offline Marketing

We spend a lot of time promoting on-line marketing, because it offers may sustainable marketing opportunities to SME Marketers. But this doesn’t mean we have dismissed offline marketing. On the contrary, in its place it too can be very effective, especially when mixed with online campaigns. Take a look at a couple of recent posts on our blog, and hopefully, you will get the idea:

3. Focus On You

Sure, you need to make sure that your customers know what you have to offer, and what your strengths are, but make sure you do this from their perspective, and from the context of how your product or service can benefit them, rather than how great it is!.

An example:

You are writing a marketing piece to tell your contacts about the fact that you have just invested in a new piece of equipment. Here are two ways you could write this:

  • “We are delighted to announce that we have just invested £gazillions in the latest state of the art equipment that has so many bells and whistles, that we could hardly get it through the door of our office”

OR

  • “As part of our commitment to giving you the best service, we have recently invested in a new machine that will allow us to deliver higher quality results, more quickly, and at a lower cost to you than was previously possible”

Which do you think will work better?

4. Buy Bulk Email Lists

I am not saying that it is never a good idea to buy email lists, but I am saying that is my default position, unless someone can give me a very good reason why I should do it. The less you can target your list, the more likely it is to be a bad idea. There are some very big, very cheap email lists for sale out there. You work it out! In our experience, the results that are achieved from sending emails to a list of customers and contacts that you have built up yourself in the course of your business are orders of magnitude better than those achieved with bought lists. If you are thinking that you don’t have any lists of your own, or don’t see the benefit of emailing people you already know, you might find these posts interesting:

5. Give Up Too Easily

This is something that many, if not most, small business marketers (myself included) are guilty of. It is very easy to have what seems like a great marketing idea, implement it, and then give up in disgust when your sales haven’t doubled in a week. The fact is that whatever anyone might tell you, there are no quick fixes in marketing and most really successful SME marketing initiatives that deliver sustained and sustainable success take time to develop. This is why it is important to develop strategies that you are happy to sustain over time so that become part of your day to day business activities. By all means, monitor, measure, review and evolve these activities on a regular basis and adjust and tweak things as appropriate. Ask yourself objectively, ‘Is my business position progressing and improving?‘ If the answer is “yes”, then don’t give up!

Adding a Google+ Share button to your blog

Google+
Share your blog posts on Google+
Google+  still has a long way to go to prove its usefulness in  social media marketing and although the signs are positive, one big downside is the lack of support for integration into other areas of the social media mix. Unlike Twitter & Facebook with their tweet & follow buttons, if you want to add blog posts to your Google+ stream, there are no such tools… ..until now (If you are using WordPress to power your blog at at least). If your blog is ‘powered by WordPress’, all you need to do is add the following code to the relevant place in your WordPress template. (If you don’t know how to do this, we would be happy to assist) <a href=”https://m.google.com/app/plus/x/?v=compose&content=<?php the_title(); ?> – <?php the_permalink(); ?>” onclick=”window.open(‘https://m.google.com/app/plus/x/?v=compose&content=<?php the_title(); ?> – <?php the_permalink(); ?>’,’gplusshare’,’width=450,height=300,left=’+(screen.availWidth/2-225)+’,top=’+(screen.availHeight/2-150)+”);return false;”><img  style=”float:left; margin-right:10px;” src=”http://i52.tinypic.com/xfohg4.png” width=”55″ height=”22″ alt=”Share <?php the_title(); ?> on Google+” title=”Share <?php the_title(); ?> on Google+”></a> Once installed, a button will display against your post. When clicked, the button will add the post to your Google+ stream. Although it is a little technical at the moment, my thanks to Alex at AVItricks.info. I am certain it won’t be long before someone offers a plugin to simplify this process, and when they do, we will be sure to post it here.

Getting started with targeted email marketing – ‘but I don’t have a list…’

But I don’t have a list…

How often have we heard this when we are talking to clients about the possibility of starting to use email marketing?  – Lots! But it isn’t true. It just requires a bit of lateral thinking… …and a glass of your favourite tipple helps! The problem normally starts because when people think about email marketing lists they think in terms of lists of 1000s or more – I once saw an email offering a DVD claiming to contain a BILLION email addresses – you get the point, email marketing is normally thought of as bulk marketing which is both off-putting and overwhelming to many people. But here we are talking about TARGETED marketing – using email as a platform to keep in touch with people we already know. It isn’t the quantity of the list we are bothered about – it’s the QUALITY. One of our longest-standing email marketing clients started with a list of only 54 names – yet their email marketing consistently produces results – even now, some 4 years later, the client’s list is less than 200. As I say, quality is more important than quantity.

So where to start:

First, go and raid your desk drawers, briefcase or anywhere else you put business cards (while you decide what to do with them) and gather them all together  – If your collection is less than around 30, I suggest you go and have a ferret around the various storage bins in the car too. Second, open a blank spreadsheet using your favourite ‘Office Suite’ – if you use MS Excel, you can get a simple Email Target List Template here. Third, – this is important – pour a glass of your favourite tipple. Fourth, transfer the information from the cards into the spreadsheet – I think 1 sip/glug every 10 names is reasonable. Once you have finished I think another glass is a reasonable reward for a job well done! And then (a bit of discipline is required here) WHENEVER you get given a business card, add the details to your list. This will build your list using the principle of little and often which can produce good results in a surprisingly short time. Now you have your list and you CAN start your targeted email marketing.  

Making the most of LinkedIn

I know a lot of people who are on LinkedIn and it intrigues me that when you ask how they use it to promote their business, a blank look is the common response. They can have a real focus on building their connections but other than getting an ever-increasing number, what else can you do? There is a general view that LinkedIn can be a great way to ‘tout yourself about’ when you are looking for a new job. Equally, if you are recruiting then LinkedIn can be a useful tool to sort the wheat from the chaff of all of the CVs you have to wade through  – though often Facebook can be more revealing! But what if all you want to do is promote your business? Here are 2 ideas you may find helpful: 1. Integrate LinkedIn with your blog/news posts One thing you should do is keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. This can be a pain to do manually but wouldn’t it be great if you could post once (say on your website news page as we all do regularly – don’t we?!) and have this automatically published to your LinkedIn account (and the rest of your Social Media network too should you wish?) Well you can! Check out www.linksalpha.com; a neat utility with both free and subscription services The service is easy to set-up and use but if you want to find out more please get in touch with us 2. Real networking with LinkedIn I was talking with someone at a networking session this morning and he was telling me he was  really keen to get an introduction to the chief exec of a local firm as he felt there was a good synergy between their two companies. He was asking around to see if anyone knew the chief exec – and not getting very far! This is where LinkedIn can really work. As a LinkedIn member, my colleague was not directly connected to his target contact – but he was connected to someone who is! This can be particularly effective if you work in a niche sector. All he needs to do is to ask hs connection for an introduction – bingo! The above scenario is based on a 2nd degree contact but the process can be effective even with only a 3rd degree contact – i.e. you have to go through 2 steps. I’m not sure you should try if your connection is more distant than this – but do feel free to give it a go! And most important…. When you make a contact make sure you keep it even if there is no business opportunity straight away. Keeping in touch with people is the most sustainable way of building your business – oh, and doing good job helps too! To talk about developing joined-up marketing for your business, give me a call